Investing in HIT education: The 10x10 program

By Stephen Burrows
08:14 AM

“We must invest not only in technology, but also in the education and training of healthcare professionals who have knowledge and skills beyond clinical training. Every hospital, clinic, and healthcare organization will need professionals versed in informatics to assist with implementation, use, and success of health IT systems.” — Don E. Detmer, MD, Past AMIA President

Dr. Detmer’s words are remarkably timely in this era of HITECH and Meaningful Use. Never before has the industry of healthcare information technology seen such rapid growth both in scope and volume of work.

While no one can deny the value of the work to be completed, there is much concern about how to get it all done and perhaps more importantly ensuring the highest level of professionalism in those doing the work.

In October 2011, the CIO of a large four-hospital healthcare system gave testimony before the Meaningful Use Workgroup of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology’s (ONCHIT) HIT Policy Committee. The healthcare system had completed the work for Stage I of Meaningful Use, Year 1. The CIO estimated the work effort to prepare and complete this work was well over 36,000 man-hours. Most of this was spent on “getting reports correct; not improving quality". With all of the unknown factors, at this point it is difficult to put an exact estimate on what MU Stage II will entail, but all agree that the work effort will be considerably more than Stage I.

Preparing leaders for the field of informatics is essential to success. To this end, the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA) has launched the online ‘10x10 program’ to train 10,000 professionals in the ‘key tenets of medical informatics’ within 10 years to help ensure information technology’s potential in healthcare is recognized.

At the core of the AMIA is the belief in the ‘great promise’ that IT holds in improving the quality and safety of patient care. AMIA embarked on this effort to ensure that there is a workforce in place to “make best and appropriate use of technologies” and to “lead the transformation of the American health care system through the deployment and use of advanced clinical computing systems of care by the end of the decade.”

In order to do this, AMIA has partnered with a number of different organizations and institutions of higher learning “with a proven track record in distance learning” to offer the online program. Many of the organizations offer the course in a web-based interactive format and target professionals from a variety of backgrounds including medical, nursing, pharmacy, administration, and computer science course.

The 10x10 courses present information from across the field of informatics and focuses on the following topics:

•    Clinical or health informatics
•    Clinical research informatics
•    Translational bioinformatics
•    Nursing informatics
•    Public Health informatics

With the projected growth of over 20 percent in the need for healthcare information technology personnel, it is imperative that the quality of informatics professionals is the highest possible. AMIA’s 10x10 program is one way to ensure this happens.

Stephen Burrows, DPM, MBA, is Chair & Program Director, Healthcare Information Systems, at Sacred Heart University’s College of Health Professions.